Reversing The Pandemic of Vitamin D Deficiency to Keep us Happy, Healthy, and Strong
Of all the lab tests I run, Vitamin D deficiency is the most common problem I see. Over 80% of people are low in the essential vitamin even here in sunny San Diego!
Enough Vitamin D (which isn't actually a vitamin, but a hormone building block needed for a myriad of functions within the body) will keep your bones strong, your moods balanced, your sleep deep, and your immunity strong.
Having a look at your labs
To be sure your levels are okay, you should to have your doctor or health care practitioner test your Vitamin D levels at least two times a year. The average range goes from 30-100. Most MDs will tell you that you're fine if you're hovering around 30. As a clinician with a functional medicine spin, I like to see my clients and myself at around 50-60 to make sure there are no symptoms of low Vitamin D (which you can get even if you are “within range”). In the warmer months you should be able to maintain 60-ish if you are getting outside, and naturally be a little lower in the winter months (when more supplementation is needed).
Skip the sunscreen (at least for the first 20 minutes)!
Vitamin D is formed in the skin with exposure to UV B rays from the sun. Sunscreen blocks 95-100% of the formation of Vitamin D from the sun. The midday summer sun gives us about 20,000 IU in 20 minutes. Hence why we are all happier in warmer weather! Get outside as much as possible and spend at least 20 minutes in the sun before you put on sunscreen. When you do put on sunscreen, however, please make sure it's a non-toxic one like Eco or Badger.
The Vitamin D deficiency pandemic can be linked to the societal shift from the agricultural era to the industrial era when many of us started spending more time inside (on computers, in offices, playing video games, etc) rather than outside in the fields. The problem has been compounded to epic proportions since the excessive use of sunscreen.
Busting a Vitamin D Myth and Vitamin D Depression Connection
I recently interviewed an integrative psychiatrist, Dr. Sara Van Anrooy on The Randy and Christa Show and she shared that melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, is linked to the combination of frequent sunburns in childhood and a Vitamin D deficiency. Interesting, right? Don't let your kids or yourself get burnt, and make sure to consume enough vitamin D, be it via the sun or through food.
This doc is treating depression with Vitamin D before prescribing antidepressants with great success. She has found that people experience substantial improvement in their symptoms within the first 2-4 weeks of integrating the use of Vitamin D, though it usually takes a full year of Vitamin D treatment to fully balance their health. That will be a very interesting segment to share so please stay tuned.
How Do I know I am Vitamin D Deficient?
I am always a proponent of running a blood test to know exactly where your levels are, however, a few signs of deficiency are a pale complexion, dark circles under the eyes, bone loss (teeth count too), and chronic depression.
Vitamin D through food and supplementation
Eat your Vitamin D
It’s a misconception that you get Vitamin D from milk. In order to get your daily fill of Vitamin D from milk you would need 30-50 glasses (ew)! A much better food source to get Vitamin D from is clean, wild fish. Some great examples are; Cod, Herring, Wild Catfish, Oysters, Wild Sockeye Salmon and Steelhead Trout.
Supplementation – Cod liver and fish oil are higher in Vitamin D (and help ward off depression by balancing the brain). To choose a good fish oil, make sure the EPA & DHA collectively add up to 1000mg.
To supplement with straight Vitamin D, shoot for 3000-5000iu (international units) per day if you are deficient (but I have put really deficient people on as much as 50,000iu/week). Because it's fat soluble, take it with a little fat like coconut oil or avocado and away from magnesium by 2 hours to help with better absorption.
People always ask me about my favorite brands to cut out the guess work of finding truly high quality products. Some of our favorite products and supplements we use for fish oil and Vitamin D supplementation are: New Chapter’s Wholemega, Premier D by Premier Research Labs, Green Pastures Fermented Cod Liver Oil,Orthomolecular's Vitamin D and Nordic Natural’s Omega LDL (or for kids, Omega Swirl – they love it!)
I leave you this week with my simple adage based upon what I have clinically witnessed for over a decade now.
“Give the body what it needs, take away what it doesn't, and it will heal itself”